New National Distance Learning Program Made Possible with Generous Support from the Wyss Foundation and the National Park Service

Washington, D.C. (July 28, 2020) With so much still unknown about what education will look like for the 2020/2021 school year, National Park Trust announces the launch of a robust distance-learning initiative based on its renowned Buddy Bison School Program which for more than a decade has provided fully funded park experiences for kids in under-served communities including kids of color. This new education package –THE BUDDY BISON CREATIVE LEARNING PROGRAM — is being launched nationwide in Title I schools this fall.

With generous early lead support of $200,000 from the Wyss Foundation, the Park Trust will bring parks to kids with a program that aligns with classroom curricula, is adaptable to different educational situations (whether the students are in school or remote learning at home), and has hands-on learning components to supplement digital materials. The foundation’s gift will also be matched by National Park Service Centennial Challenge funds.

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges that impact students and families especially those in under-served communities. With 80% of Buddy Bison Program students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, the federal indicator of low income, these students often do not have the resources at home to support online education or the complementary hands-on activities available to them that can offset hours of sedentary screen time each day. Working closely with teachers who are looking to provide fun, engaging educational activities that support their classroom curricula, the Buddy Bison Creative Learning Program will provide innovative programming that keeps students engaged with our parks and outdoor education while maintaining physical distancing and meeting new school safety policies

The program and materials will emphasize the Buddy Bison Program’s three pillars:

  • Education: using parks as outdoor classrooms through hands-on activities and virtual visits including visits from rangers or special guests.
  • Health and Wellness: encouraging kids to get moving outside safely near their home or at parks for their mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Stewardship: teaching kids about their role as park stewards and caretakers of our environment.

To align with these pillars, the Buddy Bison Creative Learning Program will include 10 units on subject areas including fossils, watersheds, animal adaptations, plants, geomorphology, stars/space, and even park art. Acknowledging the importance of national parks as places where the stories of our country are preserved and retold, a unit on important figures in history will also be featured.

“After the pandemic hit and schools were abruptly closed, we listened to the needs and challenges of the hundreds of teachers that we support across the country. The National Park Trust is committed to supporting our students during this crisis and will continue our work to break down barriers that prevent under-served communities from accessing and engaging with the benefits of the great outdoors. The new Buddy Bison Creative Learning Program will help to bring those fun and memorable park experiences to students no matter where they are learning this school year.”

Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust


National Park Trust is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. The Park Trust is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of preserving national parks through land protection and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by connecting kids to parks. Since 1983, National Park Trust has benefitted 48 national park sites across 28 states, one U.S. Territory, and Washington, D.C. Annually, the Park Trust provides an estimated 20,000 under-served kids with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support nearly 300 Title I schools. Find out more at

Media Contact: Ivan Levin at 540.818.5818 or